Ruben Lenten's Kiteboarding Comeback Tour

After winning a battle with cancer, the megaloop king goes storm chasing in the North Atlantic.
By Dom Granger

After a tough battle against cancer that kept him off the water for a little over a year, Ruben Lenten is now back at full strength and ready to throw megaloop after megaloop all over the planet.

His comeback project, "CODE RED," is to "show the world that I'm back on my kiteboard and doing what I love ... storm chasing!"

Three countries, one powerful storm and tons of megaloops later, the "Master of Extreme" is officially back and well prepared to do battle for the sought-after title of King of the Air, the big-air kiteboarding competition taking place at the end of January in Cape Town, South Africa.

We caught up with Ruben to find out more about the CODE RED project.

He's back!

Ruben Lenten posing for a portrait during the Code Red project
As strong as ever! © Alex Revers/Red Bull Content Pool Was this a project that started in your head before you had cancer or did it come to you as your comeback project?

Ruben Lenten: CODE RED came together pretty naturally as soon as I got strong enough to get back to doing what I love — riding as hard and jumping as high as possible. Surviving such a gnarly tumor and treatment is one thing, but getting back to full strength is another. All I wanted was to get fit as quickly as possible and ride a storm again. Naming it CODE RED seemed pretty fitting.

The type of weather Lenten was craving

Ruben Lenten during a megaloop with his kite in Iceland
When it's that cold, better stay in the air! © Alex Revers/Red Bull Content Pool

How did you know this storm was "the one" ?

Well, the funny thing with this storm chase was that it was my cameraman Mikey Bizniz that rang me and said, "Ruben, pack your bags we’re going to Iceland." I saw a blizzard on the radar and said, "You’re crazy" and hung up the phone. He phoned again and got me exploring the conditions a little closer. It seemed like we were in for a treat as the north of Iceland was getting hit by the eye of the storm. I checked out some of the locations and it looked beautiful. A bit cold but that’s where we headed.

The team that made it happen

Ruben Lenten posing for a portrait with his videographer in Ireland
A good team is what make crazy projects happen © Alex Revers/Red Bull Content Pool

Which location was the most challenging and why?

Iceland was by far the coldest and gnarliest; riding a blizzard in front of some rocks is not a joke. We almost didn’t even make it with the car as everyone advised us to stay indoors and we got stuck in the snow after 15 feet of driving. Typical CODE RED. [Laughs]

On the other hand, it was the Netherlands that was most frustrating as I had to deal with so much current. The wind and waves were so good and I just couldn’t get to them. I guess the frustration and adrenaline had us grasping for more.

We got to Ireland with a few hours of light left and still had to find the right spot, which ended up being beautiful but way too gusty. The next day the storm died a little but I had a blast jumping from the pier while the coast guard was hassling my camera crew because they thought it wasn’t safe what we were doing.

Intense conditions in the Netherlands

Ruben Lenten walking against strong winds in the Netherlands
A slight breeze on the coast of the Netherlands © Alex Revers/Red Bull Content Pool

How do you foresee King of the Air going? Do you think Aaron Hadlow, Kevin Langeree and Jesse Richman should feel the pressure of your return?

I am truly looking forward to my time in Cape Town. I decided to compete again as I am back to full strength and looking forward to riding hard and fly high with all the boys. I just hope we score some amazing and strong conditions to show the world how epic kiteboarding really is. And of course, if someone has their eyes on the crown they should feel the pressure of me being back at it. I’m going to give it my all, that’s for sure.

The Megaloop Master is ready to show what he's (still) made of

Ruben Lenten during a megaloop with his kite in Ireland
Three destinations, one goal: go bigger and higher © Alex Revers/Red Bull Content Pool

Last but not least, how does it feel to be back?

I must say it feels better than I imagined. I feel strong again and when I landed my first megaloops I literally had tears of joy. But only when I was able to ride a big storm again did I feel at peace. Now I can relax.

What I’m most grateful for is the amount of love and support I received from so many people. Kiters and non-kiters. People who felt my energy and reached out. This meant the world to me.

One thing to remember when you’re in a tough situation ... It can always be worse!

Don't miss Ruben's comeback at the King of the Air event, from Jan. 21 to Feb. 5, 2017.

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